The Bottom Line on iOS vs. Android

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to detangle myself from iOS and give Android a chance. After struggling to figure out which phone and version of Android to get, I bought a used Google Nexus One from eBay. Through the process, I realized first-hand just how fragmented the Android handset marketplace is, and furthermore, purchased a Google native phone to avoid the horrible extra crapware baked into the phones by the OEMs. Once I got the phone, it’s touch-screen is about half the quality of Apple’s, the video is sub-par, and the apps are not good looking. The one thing that Android has is tight integration with Google, that much I’ll concede. For instance, using it as a navigation device is very good and much better than iOS, but on the whole, the iPhone is not just a better experience, it’s about 100 orders of magnitude better.

I’m not uncovering any hidden secrets here, but let me briefly share my own bottom line on why this argument about Android vs. iOS won’t matter: The Android platform and experience is about FRAGMENTATION. Sure, maybe they’ll hook up their own Google phone (after they “reign in” the marketplace) to integrate with Google TV, but there are two problems with that: (1) There are other players entering like Roku and Boxee, and (2) Google TV sucks. Bill Gurley of Benchmark wrote perhaps the best post on this topic a few weeks ago, and while his theory is probably right on target — that Google’s platform is defensive — I will take it a step further and argue that they can’t reign this in, and even though folks will argue that the sheer number of installs (especially overseas) will create future revenue opportunities for the company, and they will earn revenue from it, but it will take much more work to even try to harmonize any pieces of this, and users will have to suffer with crappy OEMs along the way.

By contrast…

The Apple iOS platform and experience is about CONVERGENCE. In the next few years, iPhones and iPads will be the main computing device for users and we’ll move back and forth from home, office, and friend’s houses, business meetings, and conferences, streaming out multimedia via Airplay to multiple screens to share content and maybe even involving real Apple-produced TVs. We may use our phones as gaming joysticks. The possibilities in this type of integration are endless and, of course, extremely profitable on not just volume, but also price.